Monthly Archives: March 2011

Lee Tong Kee Ipoh Hor Fun

Lee Tong Kee’s signature Ipoh hor fun with prawns and chicken

Coming back from a visit to Duxton Road, I was wandering back through Tanjong Pagar and chanced upon Lee Tong Kee. This restaurant has made traditional Ipoh hor fun (flat rice noodles) since 1948, starting in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Tanjong Pagar Road in 1969 and then to its current location in South Bridge Road.

When I entered the restaurant there was just one table free, and as the door shut behind me, I felt transported to a different era, with the traditional kopitiam decor and my ears filled with the pleasant sound of the chatter of the other patrons while they ate.

Ipoh hor fun are flat rice noodles (Lee Tong Kee serves the Ipoh variety, which claims to be slimmer and smoother than normal rice noodles) that are served bathed in a home made special gravy.  Served with traditional prawns and chicken, this dish really was silkily smooth and disappeared quickly from my plate.

I also ordered their other signature dish – chicken with bean sprouts – also traditional Ipoh cuisine which, although tasty, was not too dissimilar to the taste of chicken you would get at a Hainanese restaurant.

Not worth a trip there, personally, but if you’re in the area, a charming place to stop by for a quick bite.

Lee Tong Kee
278 South Bridge Road, Singapore
Tel: 6226 9417/6223 1896

Open: 10am – 9pm daily


Bilbao

Iberico ham from Bilbao

Bilbao’s card says it is a restaurant, gastrobar & delicatessen featuring the cuisines of Spain.  I chanced upon Bilbao on show at the Isetan on Scotts supermarket.  Seemed strange to see Spanish produce in the middle of a Japanese supermarket, but who cares when you see a leg of Iberico ham being sliced for a customer ?

If you’ve read my blog regularly, you’ll know that Iberico ham is one of my favourite foods.  Nothing quite beats the intense sweet and salty flavour of this ham.  If it appears on a menu, you’re pretty much guaranteed it will be ordered by me.  I have only ever seen Iberico ham on offer to the lowly commoner in Burrough Markets in London, so to see it in sale in a supermarket, not sliced by machine and vacuum-packed, but hand sliced (skillfully thin as well, I might add), I was absolutely thrilled.  All other plans for dinner (I think I was planning to roast a chicken) flew out the window.

100g of the ham in my basket, I wandered over to look at the other offerings from Bilbao.  I chose the Spanish pork sausage, which wasn’t anything too dissimilar to the bratwurst sausage you can buy from the supermarket (but which we love) and a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine – the Spanish equivalent of Italian prosecco.

What was left of the Spanish pork sausage before I remembered to take a photo

The sausages were served simply grilled with various mustards and tomato sauce and home-made coleslaw.  I made the coleslaw with extra onions to cut through the richness of the sausages, and the sparkling wine was crisp and dry, which also complemented the salty dinner we had.

We were so excited I forgot to take a picture of the sausages before we ate !  Looking forward to visiting the restaurant and the deli to check out the other goodies Bilbao has to offer.

Bibao
111 Somerset Road #02-16 Singapore (formerly known as the PUB building)
Tel: 6737 0150


La Renaissance

La Renaissance Patiserrie’s ham and cheese croissant

In a recent trip back to Sydney for my dad’s 70th birthday, we decided to opt for a hotel near Circular Quay, overlooking Sydney Harbour, rather than our usual hotel choices nearer to the retail district of town.

It meant that every morning we had the luxury of being able to walk outside of our hotel (we stayed at the Four Seasons), and out be straight out on to the Rocks area of Sydney.

Projection of the symphony conductor on to the Sydney Opera House

Sydney’s a very young city, relative to the rest of the world, being just over 200 years old, and the Rocks area is where it all started.  I used to learn about it in school (social studies) and this area has not only been preserved – building facades and areas still paved in cobblestone – but enhanced by a activities around the area to take advantage of the breathtaking location. Activities like projecting a broadcasted symphony onto the sails of the Opera House.  Or the Rocks Markets where you can take a leisurely stroll on a weekend to view various arts and crafts.

The one thing D and I took advantage of was our close proximity to La Renaissance Patiserrie. Part of Bistro Baroque, a wonderful French Bistro, this small patisserie was pretty much where we had breakfast every day.  Eating al fresco on Argyle Street watching the world slowly wake up, sipping our coffees and enjoying La Renaissance’s amazing array of pastries and macarons (which were savoured for morning or afternoon tea).

You get a glimpse of the kitchen when your order – all balloon whisks and the smell of sugar and butter permeating the air. It was just such a joy to be close to that much pastry 🙂

Highly recommended (although not if you’re on a diet) are the croissants – I simply had to have them while I could, especially with the close of Mirabelle patisserie in Singapore (anyone know if they just moved from Mackenzie Street rather than closing down please tell me !).  The ham and cheese croissants were also decadently delicious.

A charming and delightful way to enjoy a morning (or afternoon) cup of coffee.

La Renaissance Patiserrie
47 Argyle Street The Rocks Sydney
Tel: + 61 2 9241 4878


Orange and poppyseed cake

This easy and delicious cake with cream cheese frosting is one of my favourites.

Ingredients (to make a 19cm cake with extra mix to make 2 cupcakes)

For the cake:

  1. 1/2 cup milk
  2. 1/3 cup poppyseeds
  3. 180g softened unsalted butter
  4. 3/4 cup caster sugar
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 3 eggs
  7. Finely grated zest of 3 oranges
  8. 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  9. 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  10. 2 tsp baking powder

For the icing:

  1. 100g butter at room temperature
  2. 100g cream cheese at room temperature
  3. 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
  4. 2 tsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 19cm cake pan and line base with baking paper.
  2. Place milk in a bowl and stir in poppyseeds. Stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and pale.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  5. Gently fold in zest, juice and poppyseed mixture.
  6. Sift flour and baking powder over top and fold in.
  7. Spoon mixture into pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.
  8. For the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add the sugar and lemon juice and beat until thick and creamy.  Frost cake once the cake is completely cooled.

Wild Honey

The English breakfast at Wild Honey

Over Chinese New Year dinner our friends told us about Wild Honey, a cafe in the Mandarin Gallery, where you can get breakfasts from various cities/countries around the world.  Sounded interesting enough for D and I to get to Wild Honey at 10am on a Saturday.

It was already packed when we got there.  This cafe caters to the expat community on the other side of Tanglin and it was full of people chatting happily in different languages over lots and lots of food.

Wild Honey serves breakfast all day, every day.  And from their menu you can select a breakfast from destinations like Belgium (Thick fluffy waffles served with coconut cream, grilled mango, blueberries and toasted coconut), Switzerland (Home made bircher muesli with organic yoghurt and seasonal fruits), Californian (Eggs softly scrambled with tofu, yellow and red peppers, fresh herbs on char-grilled ciabatta and Japanese (6 omelette balls filled with smoked salmon and garnished with wasabi mayonnaise. Served with sushi rice and wake salad).

Of course D and I had the English breakfast (if it ain’t broke…) – which comes with creamy scrambled eggs (although I asked for mine fried), pork sausage, sauteed mushrooms, dad’s baked beans, bacon and vine ripened tomato with toasted brioche.

When the plate comes, it is almost overflowing with food.  The servings are huge, so go when you’re hungry, or prepare to leave a lot behind.  I am not sure brioche is the right bread to have with a fry up – it’s almost too fancy, as I also thought with their mushrooms.  These were really really garlicky (I love garlic but not that much, or so early in the day) and I just remembered that there was also sauteed potatoes, which were equally garlicky.  I never thought I would turn potatoes down, I pretty much love them any way they are served, but again, these were overpoweringly garlicky.  The beans on the other hand, were awesome.  I couldn’t get enough of them – clearly home made, not overly seasoned or spiced.

If you’re going to pile that many things on to a plate, make sure they all work together, and don’t have each fighting for prime position.  Maybe the other destinations would work, but for me, so far, the best fry-up in Singapore is in our apartment on weekend mornings (although I may be biased).

Wild Honey
#03-02 Mandarin Gallery
Orchard Road
Tel: 6235 3900

Open 9am – 10.30pm Mon – Fri (open from 8am Sat and Sun)
Get there early if you don’t like to queue


Kuriya Dining – Spring season kaiseki

Sushi course – toro, scallops with umi, mackerel and tamagoyaki

Ah…great Japanese food. Nothing beats it.

Except enjoying great Japanese food with a good friend.

My friend K and I spent many hours at the counter of Kuriya Dining last night. It being the first time we had been there, we were disappointed that the counter is positioned in front of the chefs, but much lower, so you cannot see the action that goes on behind the counter.

This mattered little on the night as we were distracted from the lack of a view, by the many dishes that we sampled from the Spring kaiseki menu – seasonal produce, served with such delicate flair that it is (as with most Japanese food) a feast for all the senses.

Always going to be ordered in future – Japanese tomato served with Japanese mayonnaise and salt

As I was running late, K had already started with a single Japanese tomato, served simply sliced with Japanese mayonnaise and salt to dip. My first Japanese tomato eaten like this, this experience was like eating musk melon for the first time – it’s almost as if the piece of tomato that you popped into your mouth simply could not contain that much flavour.  And the teeniest amount of salt seemed to enhance these flavours exponentially.  Again testimony to how good food needs to start with amazing produce.

Our appetiser

Our kaiseki started with bracken, Mozuko seaweed in a vinegared sauce, wagyu steak rolled in fresh beancurd skin, pickled cucumber and simmered octopus.  The bite-sized portions were all so delicious that it left you wanting more more more of everything on the plate – a total tease of what was to follow.

Second course was three types of sashimi, followed by grilled mackerel and broad beans, and alaskan crab in a spicy roe sauce.

Braised bamboo shoot, sakura ebi tempura, tofu and wakame sauce

Next up was freshwater shrimp tempura with braised bamboo shoot and tofu, over which was ladeled a rich wakame seaweed sauce. The balance and contrast in flavours and textures made it my clear favourite of the evening.

This was followed by assorted sushi: toro – tuna belly, scallops topped with one succulent tongue of umi – sea urchin roe, and mackerel.  Each one almost melted on your tongue with that wonderfully fresh taste of the sea.

We finished the evening with a creme brulee served with an assortment of fruit and creamy vanilla ice-cream.

By this stage we had only got through half of the enormous bottle of sake we had ordered.  Guess our eyes are much bigger than our drinking legs 🙂  so we promptly made another reservation to bring our other halves back to finish it, and sample more of the wonderful creations from Chef Tsuzuki.

Kuriya Dining
1 Kim Seng Promenade
#01-28 Great World City (Office Tower)
11.30am to 2.15pm (last order), 6.30pm to 10pm (last order)
Tel: 67360888


Pancakes

With breakfast being such a rushed affair during the week, it’s nice to enjoy a leisurely meal to start our weekend mornings.

Last weekend, I had a craving for pancakes.  Thick, fluffy, American style pancakes with crispy bacon on the side and drizzled (or, smothered) in maple syrup.  And a big cup of tea.  Ah, what a lovely way to spend the weekend.

I’ve struggled for many years to get that super fluffiness in pancakes and now have a fail proof method.  It’s all about gently folding in stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter.

Ingredients (for 6 pancakes)

  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 1 cup milk
  5. 1 egg, separated
  6. 2 tsps caster sugar
  7. 1 tbsp oil

Method

  1. Combine flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl and mix well.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg yolk, sugar and milk followed by oil.  Add into the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form, loosen the batter with a small spoonful of the beaten egg whites, then fold the rest gently into the mixture. You really want to keep the air in the egg whites as much as possible.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium low heat then scoop batter, about 1 ladleful, onto the pan. Cook until bubbles appear evenly on the surface, flip it over and cook until golden.

Gooey Butter Cake

a St Louis tradition – gooey butter cake for breakfast

I’m not sure the name really captures what this cake is – a rich, dense butter cake that’s topped with baked cheesecake.  Doesn’t matter though, it really is delicious (and easy to make – an added bonus).

Original recipe here, but I altered it quite a lot to make it a little less sweet and also to increase the ration of cheesecake to cake.

Ingredients (to make a 20cm x 20cm square)

  • For the base:
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I’d be tempted to reduce that even further to 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 110g melted unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs milk
  • For the cheesecake topping:
  • 200g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Make the base first.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the egg, milk and butter and mix to combine
  • Transfer to a square cake tin 20cm x 20cm and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan
  • Set aside
  • For the cheesecake topping: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs, vanilla and melted butter
  • Add the icing sugar in small batches (or you’ll end up with icing sugar all over yourself)
  • Pour mixture over base and use a spatula to smoothen out
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown
  • Cool in the pan for 30 minutes
  • Dust with additioanl icing sugar to serve

Le Carillon de L’Angelus

Camembert/blue cheese and cold cut platters

A charming place to have a relaxed lunch or after work drinks.  I find it hard to go past the cheese and cold meat platters, but the escargot are all garlicky buttery goodness, especially mopped up with Le Carillon’s fresh bread rolls that are baked on the premises.

Doesn’t hurt that their wine list is pretty awesome as well.

Le Carillon de L’Angelus
24 Ann Siang Road
+65 6423 0353